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Name to know: Kalieaswari Srinivasan

The Chennai-based actor is winning fast approval for her role in French drama Dheepan

By ELLE team  March 29th, 2016

Kalieaswari Srinivasan doesn’t subscribe to the positive reinforcement philosophy. The Chennai native didn’t believe she’d land a role in French director Jacques Audiard’s grim drama Dheepan, or that the film would be screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and go on to win the the prestigious Palme d’Or. For the actor, who plays a Sri Lankan refugee chasing normalcy with a pretend-family in France, a winning streak only calls for caution. “I’m a very content person. The whole fame thing can easily kill your peace of mind  you always want more,” she says. Here’s three other ways Srinivasan isn’t your average star-in-waiting:  

She’s not big on research: Stories from the Sri Lankan civil war were a big part of Srinivasan’s childhood. “Chennai and Sri Lanka share a connection, so I grew up with news of the war,” says the 31-year-old, who developed her character with make-believe instead of cold research. “I don’t know if it was the actor in me or the human in me, but I could not ask [refugees] to revisit their pasts for my work. So I started creating a world of my own from whatever I knew of the war. I didn’t want her character to just be a collection of memories from everybody else.” 

She doesn’t sweat the red carpet: Srinivasan survived the Cannes red carpet without any of the usual wardrobe jitters. The shocking-blue sari she went with, a wedding gift from her husband, was an easy choice. “I didn’t want to wear a designer. I wanted something that was significant to me, something I had lived with” 

She isn’t aiming for the stars: After the critical approval for Dheepan, Srinivasan is keeping her career goals flexible. “Everything so far has been a beautiful, pleasant surprise because I didn’t expect anything. Right now, I just want to do work that interests me. I’m now working on a play by [theatre director] Kumaran Valluvan called The Land Of Ashes And Diamonds. Ironically, it’s about war again. I play a Jewish clown from a [concentration] camp and a Sri Lankan war victim.”